Re-building Lives from the Rubbles Syria Emergency Appeal 1 Year Updates

One year has passed since the two devastating earthquakes stuck north-western Syria and south-eastern Türkiye in February 2023. The quakes caused 8,400 deaths and 14,500 injuries in Syria alone. Entangled in the 12-year internal warfare, the prolonged drought and economic recession, Syria has taken a hard hit. Over 10,000 buildings were destroyed or partially destroyed; as many as 10.9 million civilians which is about half of the population were affected! Among them, 6.8 million are displaced and 2 million children are forced to give up on their learning. Whenever disasters occur, children, young girls and women become the most vulnerable, they lack food and clean water and face the threats of sexual violence. They are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

Right after the earthquakes, Plan International started working with local partners to protect children, especially girls and women from any forms of harm and abuse; provide the affected population with relevant educational and psychological supports so that they can rebuild their lives as early as possible. A big thank you to the donors and supporters in Hong Kong for the HK$2.5 million donation. Together with a total of HK$58 million raised globally, we are able to provide immediate and sustainable emergency relief for the affected.

Report on Immediate and Sustainable Emergency Relief Programme

Three months after the earthquakes, Plan International worked relentlessly to provide immediate assistance, including basic life-saving items for the affected:

• Gave away 4,150 food packs and 4,150 hygiene kits, over 20,000 civilians have been benefitted;
• Deployed 15 metric tonnes of medical aid;
• Established mobile medical units that can treat up to 1000 patients per week;
• Distributed menstrual health kits and hygiene services to 400 women and girls;
• Distributed food and non-food items into the affected areas of Türkiye

Plan International distributed clean water, blankets, hygiene items and medicine to the affected civilians.

Schools and churches turned to temporary communal shelters to accommodate children and women.

Many children and women who experienced natural disaster endure psychological trauma due to the losses of family members and homes, therefore, providing relevant psychological assistance is essential. Plan International continues to deliver long-term support, including the construction of water systems and water and sanitation facilities, provision of educational and psychological support, monthly cash allowance, and gender-based violence support services for girls and women, further enhancing their safety and well-being for re-building their lives.

• Water and Sanitation Projects
– Rehabilitate 6 water systems to provide safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene facilities to 106,500 individuals in Aleppo and Latakia;
– Provide 3 shelters with gender-specific water and sanitation facilities to minimise protection risks for adolescent girls and women living in collective shelters, while also enhancing sanitation and hygiene conditions;

• Educational Support
– Rehabilitate 5 schools in affected areas, renovate 5 child-friendly spaces for children to play, learn, and heal in a safe environment;
– Arrange remedial classes to help 1,000 children cope with trauma and continue their education;
– Send learning and recreational materials to 700 children;

• Psychological Rehabilitation
– Provide Psycho-social support for 1,000 children;
– Support 500 parents and caregivers, and 600 school personnel with trainings and mental health support sessions;

• Provide 2,427 people in need with cash and voucher assistance

• Provide Gender-based Violence Support Services to girls and women to prevent them from abuse and exploitation

Case Stories: A Safe Shower Unit is a ‘Transformative Blessing’ for Girls

When disaster strikes, many displaced girls and women are under the threats of sexual violence. To ensure they can overcome the difficulties in safe living environment, Plan International worked closely with local partners and installed gender-segregated bathrooms to cater for the specific needs of women and men living in the communal shelter. Two separate bathrooms containing four shower units for women and four shower units for men were installed.

Sara, a girl living in the shelter called the shower installation a ‘transformative blessing’ – “Clean, accessible, and functioning water facilities not only help us maintain good health and hygiene, but also make us feel respected. Regular access to water alleviates the hardships of uncertain availability. These shower facilities ensure that girls have their privacy and protection and we no longer have to worry about intervening each other’s space. We can cleanse ourselves in comfort and dignity.” These bathrooms newfound sense of protection has lifted a heavy burden from our shoulders, and we feel much safer and more secured within these walls.”

Plan International and our local partners have supported thousands of families through the rehabilitation of water networks damaged by the earthquake. 70-year-old Shamsa and her husband were forced to walk long distances carrying heavy containers of water each day, which is too tiring for both of them. After the repair work, Samsa and her husband are happy to see clean drinking water flowing through their taps at home again, she shared, “now, we can have a shower each day and I can make milk and cheese at my home. After experiencing earthquakes, I learn to cherish what I have and try not to waste water.”

We will continue partnering with local organisations to provide crucial basic needs and mental support to the affected population. In short term, clean food and water will be delivered; in long term, renovation on schools and medical infrastructure will be carried out and counselling will be provided to children, parents and caregivers etc. We hope that they could rebuild their lives as soon as possible.